1 Corinthians 11:17-22
Now in this that I declare to you I praise you not, that you come together not for the better, but for the worse.…

Consider —

I. WHAT HERESY IS. There are two opinions upon this subject. One is, that it is a schism. But the apostle in the text and in ver. 18 makes a distinction between the two. By heresies, all denominations mean false doctrines, contrary to, and subversive of, the gospel (Titus 3:10-11; Galatians 1:6-9). Every error is not a heresy, yet every error which subverts the gospel is.

II. THAT HERESIES HAVE BEEN IN THE CHURCH FROM THE BEGINNING. Immediately after the gospel was preached by Philip, Simon professed to believe it; but he soon propagated the grossest heresies. Paul intimates that there were heretics in the Church of Rome (Romans 16:17-18). Our text assures us that there were heresies in the Church of Corinth. And John mentions various dangerous heresies in the seven Churches of Asia. If we consult ecclesiastical history, we shall find that the Church has never been free from them. Christ predicted that there would always be tares among the wheat to the end of the world.

III. IN WHAT SENSE IT IS NECESSARY THAT HERESIES SHOULD BE IN THE CHURCH. There never can be any natural necessity. Those who enjoy the gospel may always know the truth. Heresy is always the fruit of an evil heart of unbelief. There is, therefore, only a moral necessity arising from the corruption of the heart. As long as this is the case, some will love error better than truth.


1. To distinguish truth from error. Darkness renders light more visible, and light renders darkness more visible. The errors in the heathen would illustrate the truths believed in the Christian world. The errors in the Romish illustrate the truths professed in the Protestant Church.

2. That true believers may be distinguished from false professors. Paul gives this reason in the text. The heterodox everywhere are a foil to the orthodox, and exhibit their characters in a beautiful light.

3. That mankind may have a fair opportunity of choosing the way to life or the way to death. Accordingly, it had always been God's method to exhibit both truth and error before their minds, and give them opportunity of choosing the one or the other, that they may be saved or that they may be damned.


1. If heresies are opposite to, and subversive of, the gospel, then we have reason to think that they have had a long and extensive spread in the world.

2. It appears, from the nature and tendency of heresy, that the Church ought to censure and reject any of its members who embrace it.

3. If it be one design of God in continuing heresies to distinguish real Christians from false and erroneous professors, then there is a palpable impropriety and absurdity in attempting to unite those together in Christian communion who differ essentially in their religious sentiments.

4. When fatal heresies greatly prevail, then is a time when God is about to purify the Church, and make manifest those who are approved among the professors of religion.

5. Learn the importance of ministers' preaching the gospel fully and plainly. If the gospel had always been preached fully and plainly, it is hard to conceive how heresies should have abounded.

6. From the nature and tendency of heresy, we conclude that sinners are in the most dangerous situation, for they are surrounded by heretics on every side.

(N. Emmons, D.D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.

WEB: But in giving you this command, I don't praise you, that you come together not for the better but for the worse.

Eating the Lord's Supper
Top of Page
Top of Page